Guest Post by @adventures.of.ang
Today, I want to talk about the importance of building a branded style while maintaining authenticity to grow your following and ultimately your creative business. Building your following is important because more followers equals more potential customers. Getting people to land on your profile and follow you is one thing; but keeping them around is another.
While there are many social media platforms out there, I am going to focus on the area I know best, Instagram. Instagram is a powerful tool that allows you to creatively display life through your lens and provide others with a glimpse of who you are. Instagram has become an enormous platform for creatives, bloggers, and small business owners to get more eyeballs on their content without the price tag of a billboard or ads.
If you do any research on how to grow your Instagram following, the first thing you will be encouraged to do is to brand your feed. When a person clicks to view your profile, out of the millions of profiles in this great big world, you need to make them want to follow you within two seconds. In order to make them want to follow you, you need to have a profile that catches their eye and makes them interested. Having a branded feed lets them see at a glance what to expect from your profile.
What is a Branded Feed?
A ‘branded feed’ means there is a consistency among the photos on your profile. Your feed should evoke your particular style the moment someone lands on your profile.
Here are examples of different artists and their branded feeds:
Birch.house.lettering is a calligraphy and watercolor artist profile. When I go to her feed I can expect interesting close ups of her work with a light and airy vibe.
Bysamanthajo is an artist profile filled with paintings and drawings. I can expect cool tones and plain/neutral backgrounds that make her art pop when you see it.
Thelightandthelove is a photographer profile filled with warm tones that evoke a moody and desert vibe.
With each one of these profiles, the moment I click to their feed I know exactly what to expect from them and whether their content interests me. If it’s something that interests me, then I follow. As I follow them I get to know more of who they are and their authentic personality. When I feel like I really know the person behind the profile I am going to want to continue to follow them and keep up with their content This is where the trust between a creator and a follower lights up. If I trust this creator I am more likely to not only continue to follow her but I might also purchase items she sells or products she promotes.
“I’m in, but where do I even begin?”
To help you get started I am comin’ at ya with 4 Ways to Create a Branded and Authentic Style for your Instagram.
1. PHOTO EDITING
To get your feed branded and consistent start by choosing the type of vibe and style you want to evoke. Are you drawn to dark and moody photos? Bright and light photos? Tons of color? Spend some time looking at feeds that inspire you and that you are drawn to and hone in on what makes you like them. I tend to be more drawn to light and airy feeds so when I branded my feed I wanted people to see brightly lit photos with pops of pink.
There are tons of apps out there that can be used to edit photos. I recommend choosing a photo editing software that has filters that you can apply to photos. I started by using VSCO and picked a filter that gave me bright photos. I applied that filter to every single photo I posted on Instagram. I used the exact same edits for each photo regardless of what I was posting. By doing this, consistency in color and exposure started to come through my feed. I now use the free Adobe Lightroom app to edit all of my photos. With Lightroom you need to have a ‘preset’ which is just a fancy name for a filter. There are free ones out there but I bought mine for $3 on Etsy. Again, every single photo I post goes to Lightroom for editing first before I post.
Whichever editing software you use, just ensure that you are consistent with your editing. There might be some photos that you think would look better with a different filter but you have to stay committed to help you feed be cohesive. Don’t stray!
How many times can I use the word ‘consistency’ in this post? I don’t know but evidently I am going for a record. Consistency is key, people! And not just with how you edit photos. To have success you need to be consistent in all areas of your online presence. When people know what to expect from you they are going to still around.
Try to post regularly throughout the week, at the same time, if possible. A lot of articles will tell you to post every single day, and you should, if you have that much content. But don’t post just for the sake of posting something. Make sure what you are putting out there meets a certain quality standard. Often times, when I am getting ready to post something I ask myself if xyz blogger that I follow would post this to her profile? If the answer is no, then I skip it and I try to get the right shot next time.
Shooting a lot of content all at once really helps with this. Spend an hour or so taking photos of all your art individually on the same canvas sheet, for example. That way, the lighting from the time of day is consistent, the background is consistent, and now you have 200 photos of 10 pieces of art that you can continue to post over the next few weeks.
Another important thing to consider when keeping your brand cohesive across all your platforms is using the same profile picture. The profile picture you use on your Instagram should be the same one you have on your email account, website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, Tinder, your mom’s fridge magnet, EVERYTHING. If I want to find you on multiple platforms I shouldn’t have to question if I am on the right page or not because the profile photos match. Branding means you are getting people acquainted with you and your style and therefore it needs to be consistent. One more time for the folks in the back: consistent.
3. BEING YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF
As I said earlier, people start to follow you because they like your brand and know what you have to offer them, but you keep your followers because they like who you are. You have something to offer this world and people should know it. While there are millions of different artists out there, you are the only one that provides it through your lens. Are you funny? Use comedy in your captions or be hilarious in an Instastory video. Do you like to use your craft as a method of helping people? Show us how you use art as therapy for people with mental illness. Are you an artist AND obsessed with your cats? Talk about your cats and why they are the best cats ever because they inspire your art. Show us what makes you, you.
It took me a long time to find my voice on my blog and social media. And something I am still working on. I look back at blog posts I did from three years ago and cringe a little bit because it is so obviously not me talking. I mean it was me who wrote it, yeah, but it sounded like a robot rather than a sassy social butterfly who likes a good dad joke. Think about the characteristics that make your friends like you and include those characteristics as you write and post.
Someone once told me that they think I crank out good content but that they still don’t know who I am. They suggested that when I write or post a talking video that I pretend that I am only sending it to my best friend. How does that change what you post?
This piggy backs off of my above lecture about consistency. Sorry. But if you are going to have the same profile photo across all of your platforms you need to have consistency with the other graphics and images that your followers will see, too. As you might have noticed, I have a thing for pink. And you know what? My followers know that. I try to wear something pink when I know that I am going to be in photos for my Instagram. But it doesn’t stop there! If I post a pic of my dogs in my Instastories the text that says how stinkin’ adorable they are is pink. When I promote a new blog post to my Instastories, the custom graphics I have are pink. When people click to check out the latest blog post they will see that my blog header is pink, the accent color on my site is pink, and the graphics within the post are pink. BRANDING people.
You don’t need to stick with a single color like I do. As long as your followers can recognize that it’s your work because of your consistent branding. Maybe you always do the same chevron pattern on your graphics. Or maybe you like to use a little fig leaf on everything. Pick something that makes your graphics a little different and use it all the time.
If you aren’t sure where to get started with graphics I highly recommend Canva. They have an app or you can use their website. They have templates for blog graphics, Pinterest, Instagram, business cards, and more. I personally use Adobe Illustrator because I have a graphic design background but you don’t need a fancy dancy program like that to create quality graphics.
If graphic design isn’t your thing, I am happy to help create blog graphics, Instastory highlight covers, pins, and more! Drop me a line and I would be happy to work with you on your individual needs.
I hope these tips help you get started with building your online brand and staying authentic to your true self. While loads of people are going to love what you create and put out into the world, it’s important to keep in mind that not everyone is going to be drawn to it. And that’s okay! You are creating content for a special niche, not for everyone. Because if you are posting for everyone your posting for no one.
You can contact Ang with questions or graphic design consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org